Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routines

TonyM CoachCard 150x150 Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routines
Tony M., Coach/Brand Ambassador

Have you ever asked yourself “What can I play with my child at home or what can I do so my child can practice his/hers skills?”. Here are a few fun games you can try at home. 

The key to playing soccer is knowing how to dribble with the soccer ball, and keeping the ball close to your feet. Dribbling is the ability to carry the ball past an opponent while in control of the ball. So what child doesn’t like an obstacle course… right?! There is nothing like working around an obstacle course to improve your dribbling skills. You and your child can start by using an object you find around your house to create a course, where you and your child will be moving around obstacles, zig zagging, knocking down items, like cones or cardboard boxes. You can change speed by going fast and then going slow. Make sure to give yourself enough room to maneuver without losing control of the ball. As you and your child gets comfortable, add some more
obstacles like scoring from a certain spot to practice their shooting. Just remember the point of this game is to never let the ball get too far from your feet. Keep it close. 

Another fun game to practice dribbling and the control position of the ball is soccer win Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routinesplaying the Ice Monster game. In this game children will practice their control position and how to dribble by keeping the ball close to their feet. To begin this game mark off an area for the game to be played, and select who will be the “Monster”.  The person not selected as the “Monster” will dribble their soccer ball within the area that has been marked. The “Ice Monster” attempts to touch the soccer ball, at which point that player “freezes” with their foot on the ball. If a player’s ball goes out of bounds, they also freeze. Switch roles so everyone can have fun being the monster. 

ROAR!!!!

The last fun game that children seem to love playing is “The Big, Friendly Bear”. The object of this game is to dribble around and be able to control the ball when told to do so, and to shoot their soccer ball at the “big friendly bear” and stop him from getting the honey. For this game you will need a couple of cones to set up as your flowers around your playing area. To begin this game select who will be the “big friendly bear”.  The person not selected as the “big friendly bear” will dribble their soccer ball around the cones (flowers) as the bee is making sure all the 43a83816c71c7c73d165ce08aecd1adc Spring Break! Maintaining Skills/Routinesflowers have honey. After a few minutes explain that you are a big friendly bear and that you would love some sweet honey! When you say “go,” the bee must come out to shoot their ball at your feet to keep you away from their honey.

Don’t forget to just go out there and have fun! Whether that is playing a game from the this blog or simply passing the ball back-and-forth. Have fun scoring goals!

Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

AlyssaM CoachCard 300x300 Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages
Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC, Program Director

As an educator, one of the most common conversations I have with families center around what is “expected” for certain ages and stages of development.

(Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I find myself having this conversation with myself too!)

My child is throwing cones… Is this supposed to happen?

She seems scared to play with the group… Why?

He doesn’t seem like he enjoys the scrimmage… What should I do?

So much of what we see (and do) at Soccer Shots centers around the developmental ages and stages of the children. With expert designed curriculum that put this at the forefront, we are infusing developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) into everything we do.

What does that actually mean? What are the ages and stages? What can I expect from my child at Soccer Shots?

All great questions!

In our Mini (2 year old) sessions, we offer a basic introduction to soccer and character concepts. More than that, we’re building motor skills by running, hopping, sorting, stacking, and kicking. Social and emotional skills are developed listening to and following directions, going on very basic imaginary adventures, and playing along side others. It’s important to note that at this age, we expect children to engage in solitary or parallel play. This means we expect each child to come to the field and play on their own, in a group. Running away and testing boundaries is expected, as is some resistance to change (i.e. a brand new activity like soccer). Our hope and goal for this age group is that they have fun, run, kick, laugh, and develop a young love for being outdoors engaging in physical activity.

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Soccer Shots Classic (3-5 year old) sessions are a little different. At this age, we’re focused on introducing more soccer specific skills that continue to develop and refine motor skills, as well as infusing social/emotional learning (character development) into the curriculum. At the younger end of this age group, children are still engaging in parallel play, testing the boundaries, learning about their own capabilities, and are eager to help and succeed. Towards the latter end of this age group, we start to see cooperative play (group play) emerge, as well as the desire to please and follow the rules. Imagination continues to develop, and we use this to our advantage; our curriculum is loaded with imaginary scenarios and lots of fun! Self-awareness begins to develop as well, and we can see this sometimes in the hesitancy to try something new (for fear of failure). Other times we see the highly social, overly talkative confidence prominently. All of this is totally expected for this age group, understood by our team of coaches, and incorporated into the way we approach each session.

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The social aspect of youth sports and activities begins to take center stage in our 5-6 year old Premier sessions. Is your child waving to you instead of listening to coach or chasing the ball? (Yup! That was me as a child too!) That’s totally expected at this age. This age group begins to understand and appreciate cooperative play, taking turns and following the rules. They also feel pride in their accomplishments, enjoy having basic responsibility, and may get excited to show off a new move or two! Ask them to teach you what they’ve learned, and they’ll eagerly oblige. As physical confidence develops, so does intellectual ability. We continue to have intentional conversations around social/emotional development and aim to create positive feelings associated with physical activity. Even as competitiveness emerges, we teach winning and losing in a constructive way that builds everyone up, rather than tearing ourselves or others down.

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Any questions we didn’t answer? Let us know! Or speak directly to your child’s coach, many of which have received collegiate level child development units and have training from Soccer Shots on the ages and stages!

Source: Child Development Institute, 2015, General Developmental Sequence Toddler through Preschool (https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/devsequence/#.WObS4FKZOV4)

What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance

MatthewC CoachCard 150x150 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance
Matthew C., Lead Coach

Character development is at the foundation of Soccer Shots. In conjunction with soccer skills progressing through the mini, classic, premier, and elite curriculums, there is additionally an evolution of growth through character words. Being aware of cognitive and social/emotional variances, we as coaches tailor our conversations about respect, honesty, patience, etc. to particular ages.

For example, when discussing patience during a classic session of children aged three to four, I may verbalize that we have to be patient by waiting our turn to be goalkeeper. On the contrary, to a premier session of children aged five to six, I would build off of that infrastructure by discussing a different form of patience, a patience in becoming better at soccer. In said situation, I would try to elicit whether players are going to become significantly better at soccer after one practice. There is generally a resounding and emphatic response that it takes time to improve greatly, and it is tremendously rewarding as a coach to experience that conceptual understanding.

 

With respect to determination and perseverance, our short phrase definitions are “keep trying” and “never give up”.RcAAdLeji 300x284 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverance

 

Similar to the ideology of patience, my goal in a dialogue about determination and perseverance is to focus on continuation. Below are some strategies of how I make the abstract more tangible:

 

(1) After juggling the soccer ball briefly, I create an exchange where the children tell me how old they are and how many soccer juggles they can do. Then, I relate to them by expressing that I could only do one or two juggles at that same age, but soon enough I could do three and eventually eight! After hearing some entertaining answers regarding my current age, I explain and demonstrate that I can literally do thousands of juggles. I conclude by confirming to them that although they are only five or six years old, by age ten, I am positive that they will be able to do one hundred juggles. My experience is that the children gain a sense of motivation and the knowledge to keep going and keep trying.

 

(2) Coach: In school, do you have to use your memory?
Children: Yes, to learn!
Coach: Well, I am going to teach you a trick. Your muscles have memory too!  If you practice your soccer skills only once, do you think your muscles will remember how to do them?
Children: No, we have to practice them a lot!

 

I love the above approach, for it is an introduction to muscle memory, and it serves as a correlation to school which I think is valuable.  Staying determined and persevering is applicable outside of soccer including at home, school, and other activities such as music. The muscle memory theory is also helpful when I need assistance explaining the purpose of practicing a soccer move that is already known, or “easy”.

 

Screen Shot 2017 03 13 at 12.05.55 PM 276x300 What is luck? Teaching children determination/perseverancePardon my tangential divergence, but please note that part of the definitions “keep going” and “keep trying” feature on effort rather than a result which is consistent with what I have garnered from Early Childhood Education courses learning about process praise. In summary, I learned that instead of saying, “good job”, I should state, “I like how you are using rhythmic touches to keep strong control of the soccer ball”. As such, more intrinsic value from the child’s perspective can be obtained.

 

To retreat from the digression, determination and perseverance are sometimes idealistic opportunities to provide challenges because the philosophical transcends to the practical. Encountering difficulties and struggling to achieve mastery are moments where The Children’s Soccer Experience comes to life. In those instances, listening and relating are paramount because adverse occasions can be frustrating. I say that as a player who personally challenges himself to acquire new soccer skills. Glossing over the phrase “never give up,” can be all too simple.

 

True empathy must come from some semblance of a parallel situation. It must come from relating and recognizing that a highly competent learner who is still developing cognitively, emotionally, and in terms of gross motor skills is struggling. And if I live up to my responsibility as a coach, then that competent learner keeps going, keeps trying, and ultimately never gives up regardless of obstacles.

 

In reflection, perhaps I challenge myself in part because of the inspiration I receive from coaching, and certainly, I always end up learning more than I teach. I have the most fantastic reminders that playing soccer is fun. I learn that we really should never give up. We should keep trying. We should keep going.

 

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

 

-Matthew Case